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DETROIT (AP) The Vegas Golden Knights turned their expansion season into a special one by making a lot of good decisions.Like the addition of goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.”He makes an expansion team not be an expansion team Anthony Mantha Jersey ,” Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said.No one outside the organization expected the Pacific Division-leading Golden Knights to be this good so fast. With less than a month left in the regular season, they easily have the largest divisional lead and are chasing Nashville for the most points in the Western Conference.The odds are not long that Vegas could hoist the Stanley Cup.”The expectations weren’t high, but we all thought we could be better and we showed it,” Fleury said after his 47th career shutout, a 4-0 win in Detroit. ”Sometimes earlier in the season, I would wonder, `Wow. Are we really still in that position?’ And, we kept winning and holding strong in the standings.”Fleury has a lot to do the startling success.Pittsburgh left him unprotected in the expansion draft after he waived his no-movement clause, allowing the Penguins to keep 23-year-old Matt Murray after he led the franchise to its second straight Stanley Cup championship.”I had a good idea it was going to happen, but you’re never sure until your name is called,” Fleury said. ”I was still in a shock for me and my family. But the organization in Vegas from the staff, the coaches, the GM, the owner, was very welcoming and helped us with the transition.”The Penguins even gave Vegas a second-round pick in 2020 to take Fleury, who had two years and more than $11 million left on his contract. He has provided a return on the investment.”The fit has been perfect Darren Helm Jersey ,” Golden Knights general manager George McPhee said. ”His leadership was something we wanted for our locker room.”Fleury ranks among the league leaders with career bests in goals-against average (2.15) and save percentage (.930). He also became a three-time All-Star this season.”I feel pretty good, but my teammates have been good in front of me,” he said. ”By blocking shots and clearing rebounds away, that makes me look better.”Fleury has won 25 of 37 starts in a season stunted only by a concussion that kept him out of the lineup for two months. Earlier this week, he became the 13th goaltender in NHL history to win 400 games , trailing just Roberto Luongo and Henrik Lundqvist among active players.”At the start of the year, he was our best player,” Vegas forward David Perron said. ”When he got hurt, we found out we had a really good team because we kept winning. Then, we got him back and we took another step and we haven’t stopped.”GAME OF THE WEEKBoston at Tampa Bay on Saturday night, the second of their four scheduled games. The winner of the season series increasing their chance at securing the Presidents’ Trophy for having the most points in the NHL and earning home-ice advantage through the playoffs. In the first matchup on Nov. 29, Brad Marchand had two assists in the first period and the Bruins scored the first three goals in a 3-2 win at home over the Lightning.LEADERSThrough Tuesday’s games:Goals: Alex Ovechkin (Washington), 42; Assists: Jakub Voracek (Philadelphia) and Blake Wheeler (Winnipeg), 59; Points: Nikita Kucherov (Tampa Bay), 91; Wins: Andrei Vasilevskiy (Tampa Bay), 40; Goals-against average: Carter Hutton (St. Louis) http://www.officialredwings.com/authent ... kin-jersey , 2.02; Save percentage: Hutton, .934.— The Buffalo Sabres won more than a game Saturday night.They won their fans back, for now.When they lost their season opener 4-0 at home to the Boston Bruins Thursday, the Sabres were booed.Article continues below ...The Sabres heard cheers Saturday when they defeated the New York Rangers 3-1 at KeyBank Center as Conor Sheary scored twice and Carter Hutton made 43 saves.The Sabres (1-1-0) will face a more difficult opponent Monday afternoon when they face the Vegas Gold Knights (1-1-0), the Stanley Cup finalists last season who came back Saturday to defeat the Minnesota Wild 2-1 in a shootout.Hutton said he is looking forward to the challenge presented by the Golden Knights, who added former Montreal Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty and former St. Louis Blues center Paul Stastny during the offseason.“They transition really fast, turn pucks over on you and come at you,” said Hutton, who played for the Blues the past two seasons. “Stastny is like a Swiss army knife. He can do it all. He’s a great pro, good friend of mine. It will be fun to play against him, funny to see him in a Vegas jersey.”Hutton, who signed with the Sabres as a free agent, has a goals-against average of 2.09 in his first two games, the same as he had in 32 games last season for St. Louis.“It’s really something else what he did (Saturday) night,” Sabres defenseman Casey Nelson said at practice on Sunday. “He won us a game for sure. That’s what we needed. It was awesome to see him have a big game for us.”Hutton earned a standing ovation when he stopped a three-on-none break by the Rangers in the second period on Saturday.“It gives your team a boost of energy and confidence knowing you have a guy who can make a save when you really need it,” Sabres coach Phil Housley said. “He’s a very good veteran. Says the right things in the room and is a very likable guy but at the time he says what’s on his chest. It doesn’t matter if you’re a veteran or rookie Frans Nielsen Jersey Kids , he’s going to leave it out there. I think that guys respect that.”The Sabres had lost six straight home games dating to last season before Saturday.The Golden Knights also had an uplifting victory on Saturday at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.Pacioretty tied the game with 1:31 remaining in the third period with goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury removed for an extra attacker. Erik Haula then scored the only goal in the shootout to give the Knights the win to open their season-long five-game road trip.“Sometimes results don’t happen there, but they were playing well, and they kept pushing it and pushing it, and it paid off,” Knights coach Gerard Gallant said. “The hockey gods came through late in the game when we played really good. The guys stuck with it. They played hard, and they played our game.”“We really liked our game,” said Pacioretty, who was acquired in a trade with Montreal last month. “We liked our close support, we liked how we were fast on pucks. We were creating turnovers and getting chances, hit some posts, missed some open chances. We knew eventually it would come. That’s just the way it works.”The Golden Knights had lost their season opener 5-2 to the Philadelphia Flyers at home and Fleury lasted just 30:11, allowing five goals on 16 shots, but his defense deserted him.Vegas made up for that Saturday, holding a 42-30 advantage in shots on goal.Center Johan Larsson (lower-body injury) practiced Sunday with the Sabres but Housley said it has not been determined if he will play Monday. He was injured Sept. 26.
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